Saturday's Top 25: Fromm, Georgia beat Florida; SMU loses first in shootout

Associated Press
Georgia tight end Eli Wolf (17) catches a pass in front of Florida defensive back Brad Stewart Jr. (2) for a first down late in the fourth quarter.

Jacksonville, Fla. — Jake Fromm was a little late to the after-party.

He was in the third and final wave of Georgia players leaping into the stands at the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.”

It was a fitting spot for Fromm considering how effective he’s been on third down against Florida.

Fromm threw for 279 yards and two touchdowns, including a 52-yarder to an uncovered Lawrence Cager in the fourth quarter, and the No. 8 Bulldogs beat the sixth-ranked Gators 24-17 on Saturday.

It was Georgia’s third consecutive victory in the Southeastern Conference rivalry and sixth in the last nine years.

Fromm was the main reason for the last two. He has five touchdown passes in two years against Florida, with four of them coming on third down.

“When Jake has time, he’s really efficient,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “I was so proud of him this game.”

Fromm’s most important throw came on a third-and-7 play with a little more than 2 minutes remaining. The Gators (7-2, 4-2) rallied twice to make it a one-score game in the final quarter, and Fromm needed one more completion to end any chance of a comeback.

He found tight end Eli Wolf for a 22-yard gain. Game over.

“We had the belief the whole game that we just needed the one stop, and we didn’t get that unfortunately,” Florida linebacker David Reese said.

Fromm completed 20 of 30 passes, including one to Dominick Blaylock for a 3-yard score on third down in the first quarter.

Fromm struggled in his last two games, both at home, but played considerably better against Florida for the second straight season.

“There’s been a lot of outside noise, and this has been a challenge to our guys to not listen to the outside noise but to really gel within our locker room,” Fromm said. “To come out and respond and play the way we did today, it really shows what our guys are made of, their hearts and what we mean to each other.”

Cager finished with seven receptions for 132 yards, both career highs.

D’Andre Swift added 86 yards rushing to help Georgia (7-1, 4-1) move a step closer to winning the SEC’s Eastern Division for the third consecutive year and strengthen their College Football Playoff resume.

The Gators, who now need lots of help to win the East, looked lost on both sides of the ball most of the afternoon.

Florida abandoned an ineffective ground game early, and its defense got little pressure on Fromm – even with disruptive pass-rushers Jon Greenard and Jabari Zuniga back for the first time in weeks.

“The only people we can be disappointed with are ourselves because they didn’t do anything we didn’t expect them to do,” said Trask, who completed 21 of 33 passes for 257 yards and two scores.

Trask gave his team life down the stretch. He escaped a collapsing pocket and found Van Jefferson for a 23-yard touchdown pass and later found Freddie Swain in the flat to make it seven-point game with 3:11 remaining.

But Fromm and Wolf closed it out.

“It was amazing, amazing,” Swift said. “We’re an elite team on third down and we got to show it today.”

Third downs proved to be the difference.

Georgia converted 12 of 18 chances on the all-important down; Florida was 2 of 9.

“Needed to stay on the field better on offense and get off the field better on defense,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said.

More Top 25 games

(At) No. 4 Clemson 59, Wofford 14: Trevor Lawrence scored four touchdowns, Travis Etienne ran for 212 yards and two TDs and No. 4 Clemson won its 24th consecutive game, rolling over FCS opponent Wofford.

Etienne, the reigning Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year, helped the Tigers (9-0) had scoring runs of 47 and 86 yards in the first 15:12. Clemson improved to 34-0 against FCS programs. It was the Tigers’ sixth straight win over Wofford (5-3), which fell to 1-21 against FBS schools.

Etienne became Clemson’s first rusher with three 200-yard games in his career. He also surpassed James Davis for Clemson’s career record for rushing TDs with 48.

Lawrence had three TD passes and a 2-yard scoring run, set up by linebacker Isaiah Simmons’ first interception of the year. Lawrence completed 12 of 16 passes for 218 yards before coming out of the game early in the third quarter.

No. 7 Oregon 56, Southern California 24: Justin Herbert passed for 225 yards and threw three touchdown passes to Juwan Johnson in the second half, and Oregon recovered from a slow start to cruise to its eighth consecutive victory.

Freshman Mykael Wright returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown shortly after Brady Breeze returned an interception 32 yards for a score late in the second quarter for the Ducks (8-1, 6-0 Pac-12). Oregon erased an early 10-0 deficit by scoring a touchdown after each of four turnovers by USC freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis during a 19-minute stretch spanning halftime.

Herbert and receiver Jaylon Redd rushed for touchdowns in the first half for Oregon, which remained on track for the Pac-12 North title and a good shot at the College Football Playoff despite a rough start at the Coliseum. Johnson, the Ducks’ senior Penn State transfer, had seven catches for 106 yards after making just six previous receptions all season.

USC (5-4, 4-2) fell out of first place in the Pac-12 South with its third loss in five games.

No. 9 Utah 33, (at) Washington 28: Tyler Huntley threw for one touchdown and ran for another, Jaylon Johnson returned an interception 39 yards for a score and Utah overcame an 11-point first-half deficit.

The Utes (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) kept alive their College Football Playoff hopes, forcing Jacob Eason into three turnovers and getting just enough offense from Huntley to rally from an early 14-3 hole.

Huntley hit Zack Moss on a 9-yard TD pass late in the first half and added a 1-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to give Utah its first lead, 26-21. Huntley’s TD run capped a drive that featured a key third-and-12 conversion where Huntley was able to hit Jaylen Dixon for a 41-yard completion.

Huntley finished 19 of 24 for 284 yards.

Washington (5-4, 2-4) dropped its second straight after losing to Oregon two weeks ago.

(At) No. 11 Auburn 20, Mississippi 14: Bo Nix passed for a career-high 340 yards and had a 1-yard touchdown for Auburn.

The Tigers (7-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) mostly dominated on the stat sheet but struggled to put the 19-point underdogs away after repeated stalled drives and three missed field goals. Anders Carlson’s third miss, a 47-yarder with 1:14 to play, gave Ole Miss (3-6, 2-4) a shot at a winning drive.

The Rebels, who had no timeouts left, quickly moved from their 31 into Auburn territory. Plumlee hit Braylon Sanders for an 18-yard pass and then ran 20 yards.

Finally on fourth-and-3 from the 35, Plumlee scrambled around and made a desperation heave under pressure. Christian Tutt intercepted the ball and raced most of the way to the other end zone. And Auburn, which was coming off a 23-20 loss at No. 1 LSU, managed to survive.

Nix completed 30 of 44 passes, including a 78-yarder to Harold Joiner that set up Auburn’s first touchdown. Fellow freshman D.J. Williams got most of his 24 carries and 93 yards in the second half. Anthony Schwartz gained 89 yards on nine catches, including a 50-yarder.

(At) No. 24 Memphis 54, No. 15 SMU 48: Brady White threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns, Antonio Gibson had a school-record 386 all-purpose yards with three scores and Memphis held off SMU.

The Tigers (8-1, 4-1) handed SMU its first loss of the season and moved atop the American Athletic Conference’s Western Division to improve their case to represent the Group of Five in the New Year’s Six.

SMU (8-1, 4-1) came in with its best start to a season since winning 1982 when the Mustangs won their first 10 games. They left having lost their sixth straight in Memphis in a series dominated by the Tigers.

Memphis started the day on display thanks to ESPN’s “College GameDay” on Beale Street with wrestler Jerry Lawler as the big guest, then filled the Liberty Bowl with 59,506 for the biggest crowd for an American conference game. The Tigers followed by outdueling the nation’s sixth-best scoring offense, which had been averaging 43 points a game.

The teams combined for 1,067 yards of total offense, and SMU had its chance after scoring three TDs in the fourth quarter. Shane Buechele threw a 2-yard TD pass to James Proche with 2:06 left and went for 2 after each, converting all three. But Preston Brady recovered SMU’s onside kick.

(At) No. 16 Notre Dame 21, Virginia Tech 20: Ian Book ran 7 yards for a touchdown with 29 seconds left to cap an 18-play, 87-yard drive. The Fighting Irish (6-2) committed three turnovers deep in Virginia Tech territory, including a fumble at the goal line that Divine Deablo returned 98 yards to tie it at 14 with 9 seconds left in the first half.

The Hokies (5-3) added a couple of field goals in the second half and the Irish missed one, leaving Notre Dame trailing by six with 3:19 remaining and the ball at its 13.

Book led a methodical drive, converting two fourth downs, including a fourth-and-10 from the Tech 33 for 26 yards to Chase Claypool that gave the Irish first-and-goal from the 7. After two incomplete passes, Notre Dame caught Virginia Tech in a blitz. Book ran away from it and darted into the end zone. Jonathan Doerer booted through the PAT for the lead, Kyle Hamilton picked off a long pass by Quincy Patterson around midfield to end the Hokies’ final possession and the Irish averted a two-game losing streak.

Book passed for 341 yards and two touchdowns.

No. 17 Cincinnati 46, (at) East Carolina 43: Sam Crosa kicked a 32-yard field goal as time expired to lift Cincinnati past East Carolina on Saturday night.

Desmond Ridder threw for 161 yards and a touchdown, rushed for 146 more and led the winning drive in the final 1:10 for the East Division-leading Bearcats (7-1, 4-0 American Athletic Conference). The 24 1/2-point favorites trailed by 12 points with less than 9 minutes left before escaping with their sixth win in a row.

Ahmad Gardner returned an interception 62 yards for a touchdown with 4:38 remaining to give Cincinnati a short-lived 43-40 lead, and Michael Warren II rushed for 141 yards and three touchdowns.

Holton Ahlers threw for a school-record 535 yards, matched a career high with four touchdown passes and rushed for a score for the Pirates (3-6, 0-5). Jake Verity tied it at 43 with his third field goal, a 27-yarder with 1:14 remaining – plenty of time for Ridder and the Bearcats to rally.

No. 22 Kansas State 38, Kansas 10: Skylar Thompson ran for 127 yards and three touchdowns, Harry Trotter added 92 yards rushing and another score and Kansas State romped over Kansas.

Thompson also had 129 yards passing for the Wildcats (6-2, 3-2), who showed no letdown from their upset of then-No. 5 Oklahoma in bludgeoning the Jayhawks (3-6, 1-5) for the 12th consecutive time.

Carter Stanley was 13 of 23 for 115 yards and two interceptions for Kansas before leaving with an injury late in the game. Star running back Pooka Williams managed just 61 yards rushing.

The Wildcats held new coach Les Miles’ team to 241 yards of offense, a 2-for-10 mark on third down and stopped it on both fourth down tries. Kansas State also had four sacks, dominated the time of possession and had 342 yards rushing in what turned into a lopsided affair.

(At) No, 23 Wake Forest 44, North Carolina State 10: Jamie Newman returned from injury to throw for three touchdowns and run for two more for Wake Forest.

Newman had a game and part of another with a shoulder injury, and his status was uncertain for the long-running series. But Newman and the Demon Deacons (7-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) got off to a dominating start that had this one wrapped up early.

Newman scored twice on first-quarter keepers, taking a moment to extend his arms to the side in celebration as he crossed the goal line on a 20-yard run that started Wake Forest’s opening-period romp. He also had the first of his three TD throws to Jack Freudenthal in the first quarter, with Wake Forest scoring touchdowns on its first three drives and taking a 24-0 lead early in the second.

Newman threw for 287 yards and ran for 30 more before checking out late in the third.

N.C. State is 1-3 in the ACC and 4-4 overall.